Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Patient Engagement? I think it’s time to Just Ask

Why is asking for help so hard? Many of us don’t want to appear foolish or look like we actually need help. Maybe we don’t want to make ourselves appear vulnerable for rejection. Asking for help means putting ourselves in a position of weakness, and for those who have always been calling the shots, this can be hard. For those who are in charge of healthcare decisions, admitting that they don’t have the answers, I’m sure, is a scary place to be. But it’s time to start.

And really, although I understand that implementation can be difficult, I think that everyone is overthinking this. Everyone is so busy trying to figure out the perfect way to ‘engage patients’, that it’s not happening. It’s time to go back to what most of us were taught (I hope) when we were growing up. Here are my personal hints on how to go forward
  1. If you don’t know the answer to a question, don’t pretend that you do.
  2. Ask questions to new groups of people that have new perspectives on a problem.
  3. When you ask people to join a team, treat them with respect. This means that they have to be fully integrated team members, not afterthoughts.
  4. If patients are going to be included in a fully authentic way, then the unique limitations on their time, budget and energy has to be accommodated in their engagement opportunity.
  5. Patient voices must have the same authority and power as every other team member.
  6. Ultimately, if health care providers/administrators/researchers have questions on how to proceed and engage patients, the best way forward is to just ask us. We're all right here. 
And for goodness sake, one patient on one committee isn’t engagement. Representation requires a diversity of voices in a diversity of roles. This is how we get to new solutions in healthcare. Everyone working together. We’re going to disagree. It’s how we’re given the opportunity to both agree and disagree that’s going to make a difference. 

Chase the Dog Says "It's time to Just Ask"

Can you see me?